So you have a 55-gallon tank in mind and you’re planning what selection of fish it will house – but first the setup! What canister filter should you use on your 55 gallon aquarium set up?

Or maybe you’re here searching for a filter upgrade?

Well canister filters are an excellent choice for keeping tank water at optimum levels. Canister type filters tend to come with many benefits including their quiet nature. They are easy to set-up and manage, with many of them taking less than an hour to get going.

They are also made to be easy to clean reducing the hassle that goes into keeping your fish’s habitat as healthy as it needs to be.

This guide will be reviewing the following filters:

  • Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter (700)
  • Biopro External Canister Filter with UV Sterilizer (1200 UV Unit)
  • Fluval External Filter (306)
  • Hydor Professional External Canister Filter (250)
  • MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter

Preparing For a Canister filter

A canister filter is an easy to use filtration system to help keep the water in your aquarium from being filled with gunk.

Aquarium water can become dirty extremely quickly making a toxic environment for the fish living inside of it. The filter will pull the debris from the water and catch them using inserted filter medias of your choice. Without a proper filter a large fish tank, especially a 55 gallon one would become a hassle to both the aquarium owner and its own residents.

Canister Filter Maintenance

Like any filtration system, a canister filter won’t just keep running forever. Filters can easily get backed up over time.

Be sure to investigate any change in your canister filter, especially if it sounds like the motor is having any trouble while processing the water. Here are some simple steps for when the need for cleaning arises:

  • Make sure the system is fully off.
  • Make sure that all valves are locked and wait for water to stop running in before removing the unit.
  • When rinsing filters make sure to use Distilled water or preferably water from the aquarium to rinse out the debris.
  • Try not to remove the Bio filter for cleaning every time, it can greatly affect your tanks health.
  • Make sure to pick a time where cleaning can be done interrupted to get the filter on in a short time span.
  • Double check all hoses after each cleaning to ensure proper flow to and from the unit.

If you are moving your canister around be sure to check your hoses. Hoses can easily come loose from canister causing your system to function less properly.

You will also need to replace charcoal filters regularly if you want to keep their chemically enhanced cleaning effects.

*If it is your first time cleaning the system, check the manual. Every filtration system has different parts and the manual will be the only way to safety clean out the unit.

Canister Filter Placement

Canister Filters for a large tank will take up a fair portion of room. A fish tank stand with a storage cabinet is an ideal spot to keep the canister.

By keeping the Canister in an uncluttered space separate from the tank, you will have the ability to easily clean and control the filter as the need arises.

Never place a filter on beside the fish tank or in an area where it can be easily knocked off and broken. Before ordering a below filter check the dimensions you have to work with and make an area that it will be easily accessible for you.

What to Look For in a Canister Filter

Typically, you want a canister that has the appropriate GPH ( Gallons Per Hour) to support your 55-gallon tank. It is advised that this is more than four times your tank size. So you are going to look for a canister filter which can achieve over 220 gallons per hour. Source .

A good Canister filter will feature multiple levels of filtration to ensure all debris are being collected from the water.

Try to find a Canister that is easy to clean or open up for maintenance. A complicated hook-up process can make taking care of the filter time consuming and undesirable.

The Best Canister Filters For 55 Gallon Aquariums Reviews

Filter name: Penn Plax Cascade Canister Aquarium Filter (700)

Link to Filter:

Quick Description: A great canister that includes swimming pool styled valves for ease of use.

The Penn Plax Canister comes in a beautiful blue color and can handle tanks of up to 65 gallons of water. The company used valves that you can find on most standard swimming pools to make this canister great for new enthusiasts. The valves on the system can rotate 360 degrees giving you a wider range of placement opportunities.

The filter is open to any combination of filter media that you wish to use giving you a better selection of options.

It is easy to change out media thanks to the easy lift clips on top of the filter. The filter also has a directional return that helps push debris into the entrance hose. This can help ensure that debris have a higher chance of being cycled through.

The flow valves seem to be easily moved on and off so be that extra bit cautious when doing anything else around the canister. The filter does come with all the starter media you need and can be up and working within a 30-minute time frame.

The easy to turn flow valves are a concern, but overall the unit is great for beginners.  *Yellow*


  • Included Media
  • Easy to Clean



  • Quite a high wattage for the gallons-per-hour output.

Filter Name: Biopro External Canister Filter with UV Sterilizer (1200 UV Unit)

Link to Filter:

Quick Description: A classic grey filter with an included UV sterilizer.


The Biopro External Canister Filter with UV Sterilizer has 4 different stages of water filtration.

The filtration system starts by using sponges to catch wandering debris and ends with its UV light. The UV light helps remove growing algae and harmful bacteria from your water cycle.

The canister can use any type of media you choose and you can remove the chemical media easily if you wish.

You will have to install the UV bulb yourself, which can be a little bit tricky. UV bulbs can be easily damaged by your skin oils, so placing the bulb inside the canister will be slightly difficult.

A UV bulb system is a great step, but the bulbs can be easily damaged by novices. *red*

The Biopro manufacturer has put out several videos to help with the setup process of this unit. The videos are easy to understand and make the process of setting up this filter less of a hassle.

You will need to take extra precautions when cleaning this filter as the bulb cannot get wet under any circumstances. Your purchase does include the bulb and starter media for the filter.


  • Everything included in the box so you can start right away
  • A Rather Unique UV Filtration Element
  • 1- Year Warranty


  • Tricky Initial Set-up

Filter Name: Fluval External Filter (306)

Link to Filter:

Quick Description: An extremely quiet running filter from a trusted brand.


The Fluval filter 306 houses itself in an extra case for an additional amount of quiet in your home.

The motor inside the casing has a strong pull to make the canister be able to go longer between cleanings. The canister is also made to be one of the larger ones available on the market, it can hold 50% more debris than most other brands.

The filter is made to give more wiggle room in between cleanings. This can make cleaning an aquarium a monthly task instead of bi-weekly quite easily. This filter does come with a more complicated interior that makes cleaning a little time-consuming.

Cleaning can be frustrating the first few times, and you have to be delicate with the separate parts. The hoses can also be a little tricky to properly hook into the system, making leakage very possible.

You will always need to double check the filter after a cleaning for any excess water build-up. When hooked up perfectly though, the hoses offer a leak-proof seal.

The Fluval does feature a 3-year warranty with excellent customer service. This model will be very easy to replace if it malfunctions and should last a good portion of your currents fish’s life cycle.

It should be noted though that Fluval has its own line of media to use with the filter. This is a little constricting. *red*

The media from Fluval isn’t highly overpriced, making it a fair buy. The filtration stages are also separated making the process more efficient. Fluval also has a separate line of water enhancements to help the media last longer.


  • Ultra Quiet
  • Strong Motor
  • 3-Year Warranty


  • Restricted Media
  • Maintenance is a little more complex than others

Filter name: Hydor Professional External Canister Filter (250)

Link to Filter:

Quick Description: An easy to set-up filter for novice hobbyist.


The Hydor External Canister filter is made to be simple. It has easy to follow directions and straightforward parts, perfect for newcomers to the hobby.

This model can work for up to a 75-gallon tank, giving you some small wiggle room if you decide to upgrade from your 55 gallon aquarium.

This is a simple Canister Filter, it doesn’t feature any complicated features. *yellow*

This model has a great amount of water flow, quickly riding your aquarium of debris. It also runs quieter than most other models, but will take time to get started properly or prime.

The media that comes with this unit leaves a little to be desired, and you will need to by chemical media to place in the filter. The filter is a little tricky to find media for, so be prepared to do some research on it before you buy new filtration pieces.


  • Simple and really effective



  • No ‘Extra’ Features

Filter Name: MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter

Link To Filter:

Quick Description: A sleek filter with a water polishing feature.


This MarineLand Magnum Polishing Internal Canister Filter has a feature to sort out fine debris in your water for a crystal-clear look.

It is suitable for aquariums up to 95-gallons and it can go inside the aquarium using an included holster. This can be a little bit of a downside as the canister isn’t that attractive looking itself.

The limited placement option drags this unit down, the extra filtering is a plus though. *yellow*

The canister has very easy to follow instructions making set-up easy however you will need to use the brand named media for this model though.

The polishing mode shouldn’t be left on for long as it does increase water current. If left on for long periods of time your fish will easily become stressed. The system does run quietly in the water, so your fish will not be bothered by a loud motor.


  • Polishing System
  • Easy Set-Up



  • Has to go in Your Aquarium
  • Must use the branded filter media

Product Round-Up

Overall, The UV Biopro Canister stands out most on this list and is perfect for 55-gallon aquarium.

The inclusion of a UV light is a great idea, and then once you know the proper steps, putting it together is a breeze.

It’s also easy to clean and can use several different brands of media. It comes with the media you will need to set it up right out of the box, and even has manufacture videos to walk you through the set-up process.

Cleaning is easy making it easy to maintain the unit when it’s in need. The customer service for the Biopro is helpful and the one year warranty is a great piece of mind.